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Want to Retain Your Employees AND Increase Productivity? Here’s The Answer

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Portrait of successful female professional with her arms crossed by Jacob Lund Photography from

There are now more job openings than ever that are going unfilled. In the US, in September alone, there were more than double the usual average of job vacancies.

This is a big deal, and it looks like it’s not going to change any time soon. Companies are finding creative ways to incentivize applicants to sign on with their companies, including child care incentives, raffles, wellness programs and grants, and signing bonuses. We’re also seeing compensation increases, even among small business owners.

Yet the labour shortage endures.

In my recollection, there has never been a time like this where employees hold so much power on such a large scale. My, how things have changed.

We are in an unprecedented time—one in which we’ve seen that people really can be productive working from home, and one in which people truly can work anywhere for companies located anywhere else, so long as they have good wifi. These days, employees truly do have options—lots of them.

Recently, I was listening to my favourite podcast, Pivot, and Scott Galloway again offered one of his quotable quotes:

Consumers don’t want more choice. They want to be more confident in the choices presented.

Swap out the words “Consumers” for “Employees” and you might better understand what will make someone choose to take, or keep, a job with your company.

Employees want to be more confident in their options with the company.

Let’s do some triage and focus first on stopping the bleeding. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve very likely heard about The Great Resignation. Lots (like LOTS) of people are looking for new jobs right now. They’re quitting in record numbers and, as we noted above, there are many opportunities for them to move to. Ask around, and you’ll find nearly half of all employees are thinking of changing careers and a scary 63% of those with bad managers are ready to walk. So, the problems faced by companies are double-barreled

: Not enough qualified candidates and too many people leaving.

The biggest issues reported by both employers and employees are related. Businesses can’t seem to hire enough people, and employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.

92% of businesses who are hiring (or trying to hire) report having few to no qualified applicants for open positions. Yet, we still see companies asking for things like 7 years experience for an entry-level job, along with a master’s degree and who knows what else? Every time employers add more requirements to a job posting, they narrow the candidate pool. Maybe, instead of focusing on the “dream” candidate, they should allow for more minimum skills which will filter in more applicants with the old ATS (Applicant Tracking System).

Candidates would love to get in the door to interview with companies, but the recruiting process filters out so many of them before they even get a chance to state their cases. Perhaps it’s time for companies to rethink what they really need and start considering candidates with a lower degree of education and experience but great promise for development. Offering opportunities to increase their skills is very attractive to candidates and might just give companies that offer them the edge.

Now what of the people already employed? They are also seeking ways to learn, grow, and develop in their careers. If they can get these opportunities from their current employer, they’re more likely to stay where they’re at. If not, they’ll look elsewhere. A recent survey from Amdocs shows that 2/3 of employees would leave a job due to lack of training and development. This is even more important to them than having the flexibility to work remotely, and we know what a hot topic that is these days.

Whether it’s for gaining new employees or retaining existing ones, it’s clear that employee development will be a crucial strategy to include going forward. There are lots of ways to get this done, including employing your learning and development department to create curricula for upskilling and reskilling. Of course, there are ample companies to outsource training to, and a ton of online resources (plenty for free!) that can help start the development ball rolling. I’d also check if there are training grants available. Here, in Canada, we have provincial Employer Training Grants on offer that can help upskill existing employees or get potential employees job ready at a much lower cost to the employer. It’s worth it to take a look to see what’s available where you are.

Now, what of the bad managers that people are so ready to leave? Don’t ignore your managers. They need training and development too—both to retain them and to help them retain others. Managers need the kind of training that will help them to engage and inspire their team members. They need development in the soft skills (or, as I like to call them, “power skills!”) which help them to truly connect to their reports. Companies, such as mine, offer soft skills training to address the engagement gap and help managers to retain their team members.

Training is one of the best things you can do to increase employee productivity and effectiveness, including that of your managers. It’s also a terrific way to show them your company is invested in their future.

Let’s loop back to that quote right near the top. Providing these opportunities for development is an excellent way to instill confidence in employees that they’ve made the right choice in choosing to work for your company. Make no mistake. Employees are customers of your company, just like the people who pay for your goods and services. And, right now, employees have a whole lot of purchasing power.


9 out of 10 managers don’t really know how to be people leaders. They need training and support.

Manager training is what I do. Check out my programs at or speak to me about customized programs for your team.

Cover image of book: It's Not Them, It's You by Laura Sukorokoff

And check out my book for a resource on how you can become a better manager.

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